Dr. Lisa Chimes is a veterinarian you’ll recognise from the television shows Bondi Vet and Dr. Lisa to the Rescue. With a busy workload and a young family to juggle, she wants to advice new parents who are thinking about having a pet.
Please give us a few sentences about yourselves, what you do.
I am a veterinarian and television presenter. I work as part of the emergency and critical care team at a large pet hospital called SASH.
When did you become a parent? Tell us a little bit about your bub/s.
I have 3 human children, Hudson, Darcie and Spencer, and 2 fur kids, Nelson and Lucas. Hudson will be 6 in May and has always been busy, both physically and emotionally. He is very sensitive, highly inquisitive and has a deep empathy for all living creatures. Darcie is 3.5 and is a ‘mummy’s girl’. She is very affectionate, independent and stubborn, and loves to spend her days pottering around the house with me. Baby Spencer is the apple of everyone’s eye – he is definitely the most physically active of the bunch – crawling from 6 months and pushing furniture around from 9 months. Although he is active, he is also the most placid and patient – probably because he is the 3rd child and has no choice! My fur kids are actually my first babies and the easiest of the bunch! They are so tolerant of the humans and I love my time on the couch with them in the evenings once everyone is asleep.
What has been the best thing about having children?
I love watching them grow from tiny helpless babies into little people – each one is so different and it’s fascinating. Having human kids has also allowed me to be at home more with my furry ones! The love in the household has increased exponentially and there is nothing better than that.
What is your favourite thing about your Joolz?
I love that my Joolz Geo2 folds up with 2 seats in place – there is no need to dismantle the pram before folding.
Do you have any advice for the first meet and greet of new babies and fur babies?
The preparation to introduce your pets to the new baby should start before the baby comes home. If they are not used to kids, start by introducing your pet to friends who have children. Let them adjust to the sounds and smells of a baby, especially the sound of crying. You can play online videos of a baby crying and reward your pet when he remains calm. Get your pet used to any changes in routine before the baby comes so your pet doesn’t associate the baby with being abandoned. When in the hospital, ask a family member to take home blankets or clothes with new baby’s scent, so that your pet can familiarise themselves. Once the baby arrives, try and include your pet in the routine as much as possible, continually rewarding your pet for showing calm gentle behaviour around the baby.
What are some of the benefits of children growing up around animals?
It teaches children empathy and how to care for another living creature. Getting them involved in the care of a pet can teach them to be responsible, nurturing and gentle. Pets are also a great stress-reliever for kids and encourage the whole family to be healthy and active.
What has been the biggest challenge since becoming a parent?
It was very hard to adapt to the lack of freedom that comes with being a parent- you simply can no longer do what you want, when you want.
Do you have any tips for First-time parents?
Lower your expectations and accept that nothing will ever go to plan again! The only guarantees are that you will be exhausted, but will experience a love that is better than you can ever imagine.